Women of Steel, Women of Power: Julie Searle

Julie Searle of United Steelworkers Local 1277 in Syracuse, N.Y., has been a dedicated worker at her company, specialty steel manufacturer Crucible Industries, for 21 years. As a furnace operator, her job is far from a walk in the park as one of her primary duties is to decide what temperature to anneal incoming steel. Annealing is a heating treatment that makes materials more workable.

Searle loads steel into furnaces with a crane, ensures the correct temperature is maintained during annealing, then off loads it when the process is complete. If anyone thinks specialty steel is a man’s world, Searle’s physically demanding job clearly proves them wrong.

She likes demonstrating that a woman can succeed in what once was exclusively a man’s domain, and she appreciates that the USW guarantees in labor agreements that women who perform work equal to men will be paid the same as men.

“I feel proud to be at Crucible,” Searle said. “It provides me with a way to be able to care for my family and be paid equally for the work I do. I am also proud to be a woman in an industry dominated by men.”

Aside from her work at Crucible, Searle is also very active outside of the plant and holds many leadership roles.  She is the financial secretary and grievance person for her local and is her Women of Steel chapter’s coordinator. Searle is also a co-chair for the Central New York Women of Steel and an AFL-CIO delegate to the Syracuse Labor Council.

Being involved in such a diverse array of activities has given Searle many opportunities to make a difference. One moment that made her particularly proud to be a union member who serves the community was participating in a donation drive for the YWCA that resulted in collecting two truckloads of business attire for women to help get them back on their feet. They also set up a training center to assist them with resumes and job applications.

“Out of all the things I've done with Women of Steel, this was by far the most rewarding experience,” Searle said. “I was happy to have been able to help someone else get back to work and restart their life.”

***

Women of Steel, Women of Power is a Union Matters profile series featuring women Steelworkers taking the lead, breaking stereotypes and serving the union proudly. To nominate yourself or a fellow sister for the series, e-mail Chelsey Engel at cengel@usw.org.

Stronger Together

Stronger Together